I just love the minimalist lifestyle; the connecting on a new level with other people, especially family, that occurs when you take the time to listen and be a part of each other’s lives.
I still find myself in awe every day. I finally realized what I have missed out on because of the mainstream “bigger and more is better” attitude. It made me become a person of self-doubt and low self-esteem; hunting for satisfaction and trying to become perfect. Because of my minimalistic lifestyle, my days are no longer filled with an endless search for happiness or vain attempts at being the ideal person.
I realized I don’t have to have the latest phone or car to feel happy. This kind of happiness lasted only a week or until everybody else had it, at which point it wasn’t special anymore. Then you had to go look for the next bargain that made you happy. It was an endless circle of manipulation, stress and never feeling satisfied. Although my journey as a minimalist has just begun, I know that I am finally on the right track. And because I am a role model for my children, I want to show them to love and appreciate the things they have, to cherish and work for the relationship’s they create, and to stay connected and true to themselves.
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Thanks to a great book called Minimalism by The Minimalists and their web site, I started my own 30-day minimalist challenge with my husband and 2 kids. And here are some of my own experience and tips to live a minimalistic lifestyle with your entire family:
- First things first
I will not give you a detailed version of my 30 -day challenge at this point (you can look it up here), but you have to find a way to downsize your entire home with your family. This is a great opportunity to spend quality time for yourself and to connect with the closest people in your life (for most of us, this is our family and friends) at the same time. So, the first rule for me was to “unplug”. I gave myself 2 hour a day to check my phone, emails, Facebook, work on my blog and so on. The rest of my time, I tried to connect with my husband and children; to really listen and understand their needs. After that, we found solutions and ideas to increase our family dynamics to really connect with each other.
- Staying on top of it.
It will get hard. It did for me. Life happens and sometimes you don’t have the motivation you had when you first started and you will have to get a “Self-care” day. Not thinking about anything but you. The challenge was harder on me then I first thought, especially when it came to memories, personal things, keepsakes, etc. I had a hard time letting go of all the paintings my kids created or the things I brought with me from Germany, like my Grandma’s vase or my Mom’s pottery. I know it sounds crazy, but it took me forever to say “Tschuss” to those things. In the end, I feel so much better having gotten rid of all the baggage that came with some of these things, I feel like I can breathe again.
That said, there are times when the process is somewhat stressful (especially when trying to decide whether or not to get rid of all the sentimental items you have collected), so after a long day of de-cluttering, I needed some downtime to get back to the reasons I was doing all this. Even if it was just for an hour the next day. The “me time” can be difficult to establish, but it is essential.
- Kids and their bedroom
If it was hard for me to let go of things I have had for years, how would it be for my kids? They have had some of this stuff, literally, their entire lives. I was not worried about my little one. She is too young to understand what all the toys mean, but my 4-year-old had some other ideas. For him every single toy, book or stuffy was a special keepsake. So, we started with toys I knew he had not played with in a while.
I told him that we could give them to other kids that would love to play with them, since he has not played with them for a while and it would make them so very happy. I expected a long discussion, about why he should keep it, but no. Since my son loves to help out other kids, it was a no brainer for him and he said ok. We are slowly continuing this process. It helped, that he saw all the things Mama and Papa gave away. It is much easier if everybody does their part.
- Keep the balance
We also created a rule; for every toy we get, we will try to give away another. This is especially hard on birthdays and all the fun holidays with lots of gifts. This is why I asked family and friends to give presents like a day at the waterpark, going to the movies, etc. or even just giving some money for their savings account. I know my kids would love it 100% more to spend a day with grandma at the lake or play mini-golf. They will cherish those moments so much more and for my kids to say they had a great loving family growing up that spend time with them has so much more worth than just giving toys.
- Quality time with the family
Since my kids are still so young, we decided it is better to only let them watch TV for no more than an hour a day. But once a week, we watch a movie together, and we make an event out of it. We get popcorn and snacks, get our PJ’s on, and cuddle up on the couch together. It is so much fun and rewarding to cuddle up and enjoy this time together as a family. Now with all this down time away from TV, phones, and laptops the rest of the time, we get creative. We cook together, do crafts, go on walks, etc. And since it is summer time, it has been a lot easier to find something to do.
- Date nights with your partner
Don’t forget that a good marriage has to be nurtured. Have a date night. Walk in the park, go out to eat, open up a nice bottle of wine and just talk for hours. Do whatever makes you and your partner connect. We recently decided to plan for a weekend trip without the kids. I love brainstorming with my husband about things we enjoy and what will make our marriage grow even stronger.
- Dinner time
Try to make time for a Family dinner (or whichever meal works best for your family). We decided to have at least one family meal per day. This is the time where the entire family is sitting together at the dining room table to catch up on daily events, without any outside interferences. This is one of my favorite moments as a mom. We all have busy schedules throughout the day. But it almost seems like, time stands still when we are together(at least until my daughter decides to dump spaghetti sauce on the dog or do something else equally messy).
- Find some activities.
Try to find something the entire family can enjoy. There are so many activities you can do. Go to the park, a home town festival, meeting with friends and have a cookout, go to an indoor play center, or go on a mini vacation with your family. It is up to you. Making family memories will stick with your family and will be cherished for years to come.
I hope you have gotten some ideas and motivation to start this minimalist lifestyle with your entire family. I am sure you will find some rewarding moments like we did. Let me know about your challenges, connections, and ideas you encounter in your minimalism challenge. I have created a FREE 30- day minimalist check-list with some BONUS material, you can get here.
Have a great journey!
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